Even from 400 yards away, there was no mistaking the roar's source. A man told his young son, "A sound that big, that's Tiger."
No ordinary Tiger Woods made a putt sound. Maybe on Sunday, not Thursday. This was a Tiger makes a birdie on his tenth hole after a front-nine 29 kind of eruption, all sorts of echoes waking up in Newtown Square.
Earlier at Aronimink Golf Club, the sounds had begun to gather their own momentum, starting respectfully. When Woods, in the midst of a first-round 62 at the BMW Championship, dropped a front-nine eagle putt, it was loud but still not crazy.
There was crossover with the day's big local sporting event. Woods looked pretty locked in so maybe he missed the first E-A-G-L-E-S chant of his round at 12:35 p.m., starting from the grandstand as he played the 14th hole, after starting on the back nine.
When Woods dropped a five-footer for the eagle on the par-five 16th, Kyle McGrath had the inspired idea to start a E-A-G-L-E chant, dropping the S.
"Opening day for the Birds, time to get rowdy,'' McGrath said later.
A guy wearing a Nelson Agholor jersey walked around with a guy wearing a Duce Staley jersey. A Wentz jersey with a Cox jersey, etc. This was still a golf crowd, though. A Woods crowd. A 2018 resurgence topped by contention in the recent majors may have prepared his fans for the possibilities here. Birdie-par-birdie, birdie, followed by a couple of two-putt pars, the E-A-G-L-E, a par and then a birdie on 18 for a front-nine 29, six under. He'd made it look easy.
"Let's go Tiger. These other guys ain't got it."
Considering the other guys were Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, you can catch the vibe of the day. The group following that threesome were the top three players in the FedEx Cup rankings, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. They were the undercard, unnoticed by the growing horde.
For those of you who aren't on board the Woods bandwagon, fine, maybe he's earned people dropping over the years. But for those who don't understand why others never dropped, there's no way to overstate Tiger's historical significance in this sport, in all of sports. For Woods to show he's capable of more special things, that adds to the history.
People here understood it. That's why that father had his son moving down the fairway to catch up, more Woods holes left to play. That's why Jason Oprishko of Francisville, wearing his Carson Wentz jersey, on his way to the Linc tonight with his friend Mike Smyth, wearing his Fletcher Cox jersey, started the day at a golf course following Tiger around.
"It's good to have him back,'' Oprishko said.
The crowd wasn't crazy. One stooge yelled "Mr. Magoo!" after a Woods tee shot but it was too hot for most to act too foolish. They were all watching something special that they weren't sure was supposed to be in the cards anymore. Woods had a few putts lip out. Breaking 60 wasn't an outrageous thought for a while, Aronimink seemingly ripe for this onslaught as Woods kept finding fairways, out-driving his younger playing partners, hitting every green on his front nine.
The lone bogey for Woods came on the 242-yard par three 8th, his 17th, when, he said later, he was between clubs and ending up left of the green, his 15-footer par putt not dropping. That dropped him to 7-under but Woods got back to 8-under on his final hole.
Hailey Milan, who had flown up to D.C. to visit family, decided she'd get up to Newtown Square. She hadn't planned to stay all weekend, but if Woods is in contention, she said, she's staying.
"It means everything,'' Milan said of Woods being back on his game. She talked of it being a testament to grit and not listening to anyone saying you're done, of being down but not staying down.
"He looks like he wants to win it,'' Milan said after following Woods around the whole way.
Birdies were plentiful all day. It will take more than want-to. Rory McIlory generated his own roars with six straight birdies, passing Woods, coming back to him, ending up with his own 62.
McIlroy said later that he had seen what Woods was doing just ahead of him. He heard it.